Thursday, June 18, 2015

Abandon Ship



I've climbed out of the stacks of statistics notes, the z-tables and the charts, I've peeled my calculator out of my hand and slammed my statistics textbook closed as loudly as I can, and I've poured a glass of wine to sit here and write to you.  I'm in the middle of what can only be described as abandon ship week, a term I've endearingly adopted from a dear college friend, Breanne.  Breanne first introduced me to abandon ship week during my sophomore year of college; we were getting ready to enter into final exam week and we were stressed to the max about a microbiology exam (amongst other exams, all of which now seem so trivial).

Abandon ship week is whatever you want it to be.  It's one of those weeks where you can't remember the last time you washed you hair (don't worry Mom, I actually just washed it a few minutes ago), when you eat anything and everything you ever wanted/craved/desired, sometimes all mixed into one giant bowl.  At the time, abandon ship week seems like the most stressful week of your life; maybe it's final exam week, maybe the week that you move into a new house.  It could even be the week you move across the country, have a baby, quit your job.  Really any major life event/school exam week can count as abandon ship week.  Abandon ship week is a week during which you make some of the worst decisions of your entire life; it's possible that you'll eat a cheeseburger when you're a full-fledged vegetarian, or maybe you'll sign up to go skydiving the following week once you are finished abandoning ship (at which point, you'll look back and wonder why you signed up for such an endeavor, and your futile attempt to cancel/get a refund will sadly not be successful, so you'll go skydiving anyways or cry over losing all of your money, which may preface a whole new abandon ship week), and it's even possible that you'll kill someone.  Anything can happen. 

I remember my first self-declared abandon ship week, the one during which Breanne first taught me about the ways of such a week.  I had stayed up all night studying for micro and couldn't remember anything that I had looked over.  I sat on the floor in the hallway of my dorm and called my mom sobbing, telling her I probably wasn't going to pass this class or get into nursing school or do anything at all with my life.  I told her I couldn't remember the last time I took a shower and that the only things I'd eaten in the past day were carbs-- cookies, soda, chips, french fries.  Moms are so good.  She told me to get up, go take a shower, put on real clothes, and go to my exam.  She told me it would all be fine, and that as soon as it was over I could drive home for Christmas.  God love you, Mom.  It's amazing what a shower will do for you when it feels like the very walls around you are crumbling and your whole resolve has gone down with them.  

I'm irrational during abandon ship weeks.  Today in Barnes and Noble I almost had a meltdown because I couldn't figure out one measly statistics problem; I'd been working on it for 45 minutes and was seriously about to throw my coffee at an innocent bystander who was just trying to figure out if they should purchase The Girl on the Train (which I silently encouraged them buy, in my head of course).  Several people had been calling/texting me to inform me that we were overdue for catching up, and then Scott came over and wanted to talk about dinner.  After giving him a death stare that should have qualified me for a 72-hour involuntary admit to an inpatient psychiatric ward, I turned on Christmas music and went back to studying.  Scott walked away after I told him we'd be eating dinner out tonight (poor guy, he's just as stressed as I am with his own affairs with school and there I am in looking like a complete nutcase in the bookstore while he's holding it all together, being the cool guy he always is) and I proceeded to send this text: "sorry for being snappy.  I feel like I'm in the middle of an abandon ship week.  AND I'M ABOUT TO JUMP OFF THE PLANK AND ABANDON THE SHIP!!"

That's abandon ship week, for you.  It's that image of people on the boat just trying to survive.  The ship is suddenly on fire and people are doing ANYTHING they can to survive it, even eating giant bags of Funions as they wildly launch themselves overboard.  I have an image of a giant ship with bodies flying everywhere as people try to escape.  That's, at least, how you feel during abandon ship week.  

So that's where I am this week.  And I hope you'll bare with me through it.  So many of my friends have kindly tried to reach out this week for fun plans or phone dates, and I just want to thank you all, and also to express my sincere apologies for not being physically or emotionally or, let's face it, mentally capable of handling such things.  I'm an irrational being during this week and just ask that you give me grace and allow me to return your calls another time.  I'll be happy to catch up once my exam is over next week, and once I get through the string of night shifts that seem inherently planned to ruin my final exam studying.  For now, know that I do love you and am thinking about you, but I selfishly have no room to reach out right now.  It's taking all of the self control I have to not gab on the phone for hours with you.  But the ship is sinking and I have to get off of it; would Rose or Jack have had time to catch up on their cell phones with you when the Titanic was going down? Probably not, they were scrambling for lifeboats and jumping ship themselves.  That's me right now.  I've all but jump ship and just need until Wednesday to save myself from the sinking disaster.  

Thanks for being good to me.  And for letting me be ever so dramatic about abandon ship week.  I desperately hope that you won't seriously consider admitting me to some sort of mental health program; I promise I'll come out of this next Wednesday and be the most normal person you've ever laid eyes on (Scott: don't say a word. As far as they know, I am super normal). 

Love you all so very much,

C

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dreaming

Photo credit: The 25th Hour Studios


I spend more time than I should dreaming about different things-- day dreaming, dreaming while I sleep, dreaming while I should be doing other things.  These days my dreams take on a variety of flavors.  I think about houses a lot-- about sea foam colored bathrooms with reminders of home and the beach overtaking the whole design of it.  I think about the marigold colored kitchen with my Tiffany blue Kitchenaid perched on the countertop, big canisters filled with flour and sugar nearby for all of the baking adventures that will take place in our kitchen.  I picture pretty white cabinets with window-pane doors and sunlight coming in through the window by the sink.  I see a big window in the living room that is our house's eyes to world around, where we'll watch dogs play in the yard, neighborhood children riding bikes in the street, the shade of tall, green trees hanging over the lane, giving us beautiful foliage in the fall and a cool place to rest in the heat of summer.  I dream about having friends over during my favorite season, fall, and picture pulling the warm pumpkin chocolate chip bread out of the oven and stirring the crockpot with homemade pumpkin spice lattes.

I dream about owning a dog and coming home from a long day at work to a big, fluffy thing jumping up on me and licking me, as though we haven't seen each other in months.  I think about dog parks and long lists of names to choose from, of runs down the street with a dog running by my side.  I dream of trips home and taking our ball of fluff to the beach in the winter months (when they're allowed), and all of the dog-friendly coffee shops and restaurants that we'll go to as everyone pets the big furry dog.

I dream about a normal life where we have two working adults and no school schedules or student loans.  I dream about dinners together and going on walks outside after long days in the office.  I dream of what we'll do with all of our free time away from studying-- of spending time together both inside and outside of our home.  I think about going to the park, seeing a late-night movie, driving around in search of a good sunset, weekend trips to the lake or the beach, early bedtimes and Sunday brunches.

And I dream about travel.  I dream about renewing passports and seeing the world.  Traveling to the ends of the Earth-- Ireland and England for good fish and chips and gorgeous countryside views, South Africa for the penguins that swim between your legs in the ocean and Tanzania for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  I dream of stateside visits-- of the Grand Canyon and the Grand Tetons, of Portland, Seattle coffee, of basking in the sun on the California coast, line dancing my way through Texas and Tennessee, hiking in my home state-- the Great Smokey Mountains and the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall.  I dream about skylines and sunsets and sand between my toes, and all of the wonders of the world before my very eyes.

And then I settle back into life as it is now.  I see the sunset from our bay window and am thankful for a roof over our heads and the small space we inhabit.  I sit across from my husband as we both study for tests and I'm grateful for the opportunity of education.  I think about how busy we both are and am thankful that I don't have to put a poor animal through the long hours of waiting for us at home alone.  And I think about the trips we have been able to take together and am glad for all of the memories I carry with me from them.

Though the anticipation of such things ahead can be ever so lovely, I have to reign myself back in to my reality, and I have to remind myself to appreciate all that is in our current season.  There's a time and a season and a place for everything-- and there's good reason why I can't have some of the things I want right now.  It's a lesson in patience and contentment for me.  Dreaming isn't a bad thing, but living in dreams takes away the memories and joys of the present.  It gives me an unsettled heart, one that is always yearning for more, never quite content with where it is.  It's a practice I've worked on for years.  Last year, my word that I focused on for the year was present.  This year, I still struggle with my practice of remaining in the present.  It's a lesson I must teach myself continuously.  But it's one that's redeemed by the goodness of Jesus and the grace that he showers me with.  And it's one that He helps me with more than I know-- by painting beautiful sunsets outside of our apartment window and by leading me through seasons of darkness sprinkled with small moments of joy.  I hope you're a dreamer, like me, but I hope that you're better at it than I am, that you can pull yourself out of your dream world to fully enjoy the breadth of life around you.

Lots of love,
Cristina.

Monday, June 1, 2015

June Book Goals

Good afternoon, friends!  I'm writing to you in my fringe hours, time I should spend sleeping before work but which, due to my inability to fall asleep, is being spent painting nails, writing, watching Hitch, and reading Before I Go (not all at the same time) instead.  I thought I'd reach out since I have been writing so infrequently lately to throw a bone your way with June book goals.  Sadly I didn't meet all of my book goals for May.  While I did read First Frost and The Last Time We Say Goodbye, I did some substitutions that I hope you'll forgive me for.  I traded in What Alice Forgot, Attachments, and Sharp Objects for The Boston Girl, something I do not regret in the least.  The Boston Girl was phenomenal (though maybe a little anticlimactic, as Mariah and I both agreed on when discussing; but it tied up all of its loose ends which I always like in a book) and worth spending time on instead of the other three.  I'm pushing the other three back to read at a later time as I have a slew of other ones that are rented from the library that will soon expire.  Here's a look at what's coming in June.

1. Before I Go by Colleen Oakley.  This one is already making me sad, and though I have a commitment to not reading cancer stories, I'm reading this one anyways because it's on my book list that Mariah and I are working through.  I love it so far in that I love the relationship between the main character and her husband, and I love her sarcasm and quirky personality.  But I hate what I know is coming-- the whole premise of the book is that she is picking a wife to replace her when she dies from cancer.  Cue ugly, hysterical tears.  I know that they are coming, which is why I don't read cancer stories.  I deal with enough of it in my job and have seen enough of it in my family that I don't enjoy reading books involving cancer diagnoses for pleasure.  They rarely end in any sort of happy way, unfortunately.  I'll keep you posted on this one.

Image source: Goodreads

2. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.  Kind of a weird one to toss in, but I've secretly wanted to read it for a while and am hoping for a good laugh from it.  Anyone read this one before?  

Image source: Amazon

3. Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty by Diane Keaton.  I'm a closet Diane Keaton fan.  I aspire to have her gorgeous gray hair when I go all gray (it's happening soon- I'm already 25% gray!!), which I imagine requires lots of appointments with a hair salon to keep the gray highlights looking on point.  I've heard this is a great book and I'm tossing into the mix this month as it seems to be a month for celebrity biographies and memoirs-- plus summer reading is allowed to be a little bit of fun!  

Image source: Amazon

That's it.  Just 3 for this month.  School and night shift have been kicking my butt lately, and with two projects, an exam, and a final coming up this month, I'm anticipating less and less time that can go into reading.  I'm so looking forward to the end of this month though.  I finish classes on June 24th and fly out to California for a week on June 26th for a wedding and a little travel time with Scott.  We're renting a car and driving from LA to San Francisco on highway 1 (eek!) and after a few days there will travel back down south to San Diego for a little visit there.  It's a lot of driving, and most people would only commit to one area of Cali for a trip like this, but we're not like most.  We want to experience a little bit of everything.  There's things we'll have to save for another time, like Napa and Laguna Beach and Santa Monica (unless I can convince Scott to take a little trip to Laguna Beach on our way back from San Diego before going to LAX).  We also wanted to add Yosemite into this trip but it looks like that will be for another time as well!  I read in a travel book once that when you travel, you should live as though you will return someday.  We did that while honeymooning in Italy and we're doing it in Cali, too.  We don't want to be so tired from trying to see everything that we don't get to enjoy the present, so we're picking a few things we want to do and leaving the rest for when we return.  I'm looking forward to lots of reading in the airport and on planes, so I may finish these and find more to report back on when we talk next.  

Lots of love and hope June is a good month for you all.  I hope you find time to be in the sunshine as much as possible-- enjoy it for me!

Love,
C.